I’ve never been a gambler. In fact, the only time I’ve stepped foot in a casino was as a 10 year-old on vacation in Deadwood, SD. For some reason I was allowed in with my Dad, and somewhat even more inexplicably he allowed me to pull the lever once (probably because I was begging him to do so). In his words: “I didn’t think anyone would notice”. We were quickly escorted from the premises and my Dad talked his way out of any further trouble.
The same goes for card-playing. I can manage three games: gin rummy, hearts, and a contest my grandparents call “Zioncheck”. I’ve tried a few hands of poker, but I don’t understand the appeal and frankly I’m no good at it.
As a Twins fan in 2019, however, I feel like now would be the time to try my luck at the slots or the suits, as basically everything the team did this past offseason has “come up aces”, as the old saying goes.
Every year, all teams take a number of gambles on players. One hears the phrase “if everything breaks right” quite a bit to describe a team’s chances of competing. This year, nearly everything—aside from perhaps Miguel Sano’s foot injury—has “broken right” (pardon the pun) for the team…
-Free agent pickups C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Marwin Gonzalez, & Martin Perez have all been valuable and productive additions.
-The catching trio of Jason Castro, Mitch Garver, & Willians Astudillo which wasn’t addressed over the offseason—to much chagrin—has not only been acceptable but perhaps a team strength! Castro is hitting jacks like he’s been revitalized, Garver is raking everything he sees (and seems to have recently avoided major injury), and Astudillo is now a cult figure in these parts.
-Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, & Max Kepler have all remained healthy and contributed defined, important team roles. Rosario is near the top of the American League in many offensive categories, Kepler has done a nice job in the leadoff spot, and Buxton is seemingly the glue that keeps it all together, providing his utterly fantastic defense that is now bolstered by less strikeouts at the plate and a league-leading figure in doubles.
-On the mound, Jose Berrios has continued to progress as an ace, while Jake Odorizzi has been fantastic and Kyle Gibson (now fully over his bout with E Coli) is close to joining him. Even Michael Pineda, though a bit shaky, is still on the right track considering he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery.
-Complete unknowns—at least coming into the season—like Ryne Harper & Blake Parker have been excellent out of the pen.
Basically, nearly everything has broken right for the Twins this year. It’s like heading to Vegas with Dustin Hoffman from Rain Man…
Contrast that with 2018, when it seemed like every gamble this team took blew up in its face:
-Ervin Santana ready by mid-May, right? He pitched 24.2 innings all season.
-Lance Lynn & Addison Reed were complete busts, and as soon as Ryan Pressly was traded to the Astros he started pitching like the second coming of Joe Nathan.
-Jorge Polanco’s PED suspension.
-Logan Morrison having such a poor campaign that he became the poster-child for the sad-sack ’18 season.
The devilish slot machine from Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone would be a good metaphor for last season...
Of course, one of the key tenets of gambling is that “the house always wins”. There’s a reason why those one-armed machines are called “bandits”, after all. In Twins terms right now, that probably means some bad luck is bound to enter the equation. Fortunately (or hopefully) the team has built itself enough of a cushion to withstand the inevitable regression to the “luck mean”.
*literally while typing this final paragraph sees that Nelson Cruz has been placed on the IL with a wrist injury*